Some chiropractors oppose vaccinations

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Why do some chiropractors oppose vaccinations? A study published in the 2013 Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association reviewed the history of attitudes among North American chiropractors.

“On Vaccination & Chiropractic: when ideology, history, perception, politics and jurisprudence collide,” was authored by Brian Gleberzon, Marlee Lameris, Catherine Schmidt, and Jillian Ogrady, explains: “From the time of its inception in the early part of the 20th century, both Daniel David (commonly referred to as “D.D.”) Palmer along with his son Bartlett Joshua (commonly referred to as “B.J.”) promulgated anti-vaccination stances, stances that animated much of the profession’s opposition to organized medicine.

“It was D.D. Palmer, a magnetic healer, who performed the first chiropractic adjustment in what has become the epochal event of the profession. According to chiropractic lore, D.D. restored the hearing of a deaf janitor named Harvey Lillard by adjusting a vertebrae of his mid thoracic spine that he determined to be ‘racked’ out of place. By doing so, by resolving a neurological problem (deafness) with a refined manual method of cure first employed by European bone-setters (spinal manipulation), D.D. and later B.J. came to believe that chiropractic care had far-reaching and more powerful effects on the human body than simply resolving back pain.”

The Palmers rejected the idea that some diseases can be caused by germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa). They also rejected the idea that some diseases are contagious.

“At the beginning of the previous century, the Palmers rejected the germ theory of disease, despite the fact it was gaining wide acceptance at the time,” the study explaines. “B.J, who assumed the mantle of the profession’s leadership in 1906 after purchasing the Palmer School of Cure (PSC) from his father (who was jailed for a time for practicing medicine without a license), asserted that: "chiropractors have found in every disease that is supposed to be contagious, a cause in the spine. In the spinal column we will find a subluxation that corresponds to every type of disease... If we had 100 cases of small-pox, I can prove to you, in one, you will find a subluxation and you will find the same condition in the other 99.”

The authors found that some chiropractors continue to reject the concept of vaccinations.

“If the issue were one that was only of primary interest to chiropractors themselves, it is doubtful that outside observers would take notice. But because a significant portion of the chiropractic profession has aligned itself against one of the most successful health care initiatives of the past 100 years, the issue of chiropractic and vaccination will continue to be a source of contention, scrutiny and perhaps even animosity between chiropractic and medicine,” the study concluded.

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